December 10, 2023

Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak Worst of 2011

An outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes caused by contaminated cantaloupe from Colorado killed 30 people and sickened more than 100 other individuals in what will be remembered as the worst U.S. outbreak of food poisoning in 2011. State and federal health investigators traced the deadly bacteria to Jensen Farms cantaloupes, but not before people in 28 states were infected.

The cantaloupe Listeria outbreak was one of 12 major, multi-state outbreaks of foodborne illness investigated and solved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Eight of the outbreaks were caused by various types of Salmonella, including two outbreaks of Salmonella in ground turkey. The remaining outbreaks were linked to E. coli O157:H7. In all, 31 people died and more than 765 were sickened, including many who were hospitalized.

CataloupeFour outbreaks, including the Jensen Farms Listeria outbreak, sickened more than 100 people, including 179 who were made ill from chicken livers contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg. The first outbreak of the year was linked to in-shell hazelnuts grown in Oregon. The filberts were contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and they sickened eight people in three Midwestern states.

The year in food poisoning included tainted pine nuts, romaine lettuce, papayas, sprouts and bologna. The most recent outbreak came to light Dec. 15 with the recall of ground beef from Hannaford supermarkets in the Northeast. The store-ground hamburger is believed to be contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium.

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